Lucy the Donkey saves the day at EACH’s Christmas carol concert in Ipswich

Lucy, the donkey (in hat) that saved the Christmas carol service at St Augustines Church for EACH af

Lucy, the donkey (in hat) that saved the Christmas carol service at St Augustines Church for EACH after stable mate Makka Pakka, without hat, refused to go into the church.

A nativity play was in danger of being left without one of its leading stars on Monday – until Lucy the Donkey stepped in to save Christmas.

The East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices’ (EACH) carol concert at St Augustine’s Church in Ipswich was set to feature donkey Makka Pakka from Parkgate Donkeys in Saxmundham.

The veteran of the stage, who has even appeared at the Regent theatre in the past, had the starring role on being the Virgin Mary’s illustrious transport along the church for the evening’s nativity play, performed by staff and children from EACH’s Treehouse hospice.

But before the show, as rehearsals were getting underway, Makka Pakka had a change of mind and refused to enter the building.

Peter Chenery, who’s wife Caroline runs Parkgate Donkeys, said the normally laid-back donkey may have been spooked by an unusual smell.

“We think it might have been someone’s aftershave or perfume that put him off,” he said.

With the show missing a crucial cast member an understudy had to be found. Ready and waiting back in Saxmundham was Lucy.

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“We had to drive back up the A12 after Caroline had rung ahead,” Mr Chenery said, “and we had Lucy all ready down by the A12 for the change over which we did in four minutes, which is quite a pit stop.”

Christmas’ new saviour was rushed back to Ipswich just in time for Mary to hop on board and be guided down the aisle.

The rest of the event went off really well with around 350 people turning up and £1,000 raised for the charity.

As well as the nativity there were performances from the Treehouse choir, three soloists who have a family members being supported by EACH and a reading from BBC Radio Suffolk’s Etholle George.

Suzi Macey from EACH added: “It was a beautiful, traditional carol service. It was wonderful to see the church full, the whole community coming together to support EACH.

“We loved seeing our local companies, trustees, volunteers and families all together getting into the Christmas spirit.”

The charity also thanked everyone who supported the concert.